Princess of Wales Conservatory at Kew Gardens, London
The Princess of Wales Conservatory has always been a place of wonder, interest and discovery for us. Glasshouses like this hold the magical ability to provide a point of familiarity and yet never fails to show you something new. This really comes as no surprise as your journey through the conservatory you travel through ten different climate zones. Upon entering the main 'dry tropics' zone you're greeted by tall, architectural cacti, aloes and agaves that fan out in varying hues of bluey-greys and yellowy-greens. Seeing cacti and succulents curated and displayed in a way that truly endeavours the replicate their natural environment, casts a new light on them. Experiencing them free from windowsills and tiny ceramic pots really ignites a new admiration for these plants. The way Echeverias, Crassulas and Sedums sprawl across the lower levels of the conservatory, inviting you to kneel down and really examine them.
As you continue to meander through the glass and the concrete you arrive at the 'wet tropics' where rainforest and mangrove ecosystems are represented by reaching palms, climbing Monsteras, crawling Calatheas and Zamioculcas that jut out from a tangle of beautifully diverse stems and leaves.
Carnivorous plants, ferns, orchids and tillandsia perch high on leaning branches and latch onto the grey, sturdy beams that form the architectural structure of the conservatory, a beautiful example of how nature and that which is urban and manmade create a harmony in their juxtaposition.